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Hurricane Sally Live Updates: Storm Makes Landfall After Regathering Strength Hurricane Sally Live Updates: Storm Dumps Two Feet of Rain
(about 1 hour later)
Hurricane Sally, after moving at a walking pace over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, gathered strength overnight before making landfall on Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Ala., shortly before 5 a.m. Central time as a Category 2 hurricane.Hurricane Sally, after moving at a walking pace over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, gathered strength overnight before making landfall on Wednesday near Gulf Shores, Ala., shortly before 5 a.m. Central time as a Category 2 hurricane.
The languid pace and lurching path of Sally, which was moving at just 2 miles per hour as it intensified into a storm with sustained 105-mile-an-hour winds, has increased the threat of catastrophic flooding. As dawn broke in Pensacola, Fla., more than two feet of rain had already fallen and the deluge was not forecast to let up any time soon. At the same time, the powerful storm pushed a wall of water ashore, adding to the flooding risks. Roads were turned to rivers, parking lots looked like ponds and driving winds continued to pound the Alabama coast and the Florida Panhandle.
As much as 30 inches of rain could fall in an area stretching from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi, compounding a storm surge of four to six feet around Dauphin Island off the Alabama coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. Forecasters also warned of life-threatening flash floods. The languid pace and lurching path of Sally, which was still moving at just 2 miles per hour as it made landfall, led local officials to warn residents to continue to take precautions.
More than 150,000 people lost power overnight, and local officials warned residents that flooding would probably grow more severe throughout the day. “PLEASE CONTINUE TO HUNKER DOWN, GULF COAST,” the National Weather Service in Mobile, Ala., warned on Titter at 6:36 a.m. “THIS IS NOT OVER!!”
“This is a LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION. SEEK HIGHER GROUND NOW!!,” the National Weather Service office in Mobile, Ala., warned in a tweet. Roughly 150,000 people in Alabama and 200,000 in Florida lost power overnight. With trees down, roads flooded and wind still topping 100 m.p.h., residents were told it could be hours before emergency services could be dispatched in force.
The weather service reposted videos from residents and local media outlets showing howling winds, trees ripped from their roots, flooded roadways, boats ripped from their moorings and homes damaged in the storm. As the sun began to peak through the clouds in some places, videos from residents and local media outlets showed images homes that had been ripped apart by the howling winds, boats torn from their moorings and power lines downed in many towns and cities.
The extent of the damage would not be clear until daybreak, but videos from Pensacola Beach, Fla., showed storm surge pushing seawater into residential streets and parks. According to the National Weather Service, a casino barge near Coden, Ala., broke loose because of strong winds and storm surge and slammed into a dock. And everywhere, water.
In recent days, the storm’s projected point of landfall has veered by nearly 200 miles. It had once been expected to rake over the remote, low-lying areas of southeastern Louisiana and possibly reach beyond the New Orleans metropolitan area, but the latest projections show Sally clipping the southeast corner of Mississippi as it bears down on Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Meteorologists said that more than 30 inches of rain could fall in coastal communities.
The extent of the damage was not immediately clear, but videos from Pensacola Beach, Fla., showed storm surge pushing seawater into residential streets and parks. According to the National Weather Service, a casino barge near Coden, Ala., broke loose because of strong winds and storm surge and slammed into a dock.
In recent days, the storm’s projected point of landfall has veered by nearly 200 miles. It had once been expected to rake over the remote, low-lying areas of southeastern Louisiana and possibly reach beyond the New Orleans metropolitan area. Instead, it was the more populated areas around Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola that appeared to bear the brunt of the storm.
John De Block, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., said the storm was drifting “at the speed of a child in a candy shop,” as if it were meandering through the aisles and waffling over its choices.John De Block, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., said the storm was drifting “at the speed of a child in a candy shop,” as if it were meandering through the aisles and waffling over its choices.
“I’m well aware that those on the Gulf Coast are all too familiar with Mother Nature’s wrath,” Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama said on Tuesday. “We still hope and pray Sally will not bring that type of pain and heartache, but my fellow Alabamians, Hurricane Sally is not to be taken for granted.”
A hurricane warning remained in effect for an area stretching from Bay St. Louis, Miss., near the Louisiana border, to Navarre, near the tip of the Florida Panhandle.
A tropical storm warning covered the area west of the Pearl River to Grand Isle, La. — including metropolitan New Orleans — and east of Navarre to Indian Pass, Fla.
Officials urged people to take advantage of the storm’s sluggish pace and get out of harm’s way. Those who stayed behind were warned that the waters could climb high.Officials urged people to take advantage of the storm’s sluggish pace and get out of harm’s way. Those who stayed behind were warned that the waters could climb high.
“I’ve seen streets and neighborhoods quickly fill up with five, six, seven and even more depth of water in a short period of time,” Sam Cochran, the Mobile County sheriff, said during a briefing on Tuesday.“I’ve seen streets and neighborhoods quickly fill up with five, six, seven and even more depth of water in a short period of time,” Sam Cochran, the Mobile County sheriff, said during a briefing on Tuesday.
For those who stay behind, he added, it might be “a couple of days or longer before we can get you out.”For those who stay behind, he added, it might be “a couple of days or longer before we can get you out.”
There is a profound respect for the power of the weather in the 318-year-old port city of Mobile, Ala., where hurricanes have consistently been a fact of life. The proof on Tuesday was in its near-empty downtown streets as night fell and the city waited for slow-moving Hurricane Sally to make its way ashore.There is a profound respect for the power of the weather in the 318-year-old port city of Mobile, Ala., where hurricanes have consistently been a fact of life. The proof on Tuesday was in its near-empty downtown streets as night fell and the city waited for slow-moving Hurricane Sally to make its way ashore.
Bars and restaurants that featured signs prompted by the coronavirus pandemic (“No Handshaking,” one declared) were now sandbagged in anticipation of the new crisis coming up from the south. Violent winds animated the arms of old oak trees. Traffic lights on wires tossed and shook.Bars and restaurants that featured signs prompted by the coronavirus pandemic (“No Handshaking,” one declared) were now sandbagged in anticipation of the new crisis coming up from the south. Violent winds animated the arms of old oak trees. Traffic lights on wires tossed and shook.
In Bienville Square, the 19th-century fountain honoring Dr. George Ketchum, who helped bring reliable drinking water to the city, burbled along with hardly anyone to see it.In Bienville Square, the 19th-century fountain honoring Dr. George Ketchum, who helped bring reliable drinking water to the city, burbled along with hardly anyone to see it.
Over the last day or so, some longtime Mobile residents said that Hurricane Sally, with its dangerous and stubborn procrastination, reminded them of Hurricane Danny in 1997, which also moved at a crawling pace while dumping rain for hours, setting off mudslides and catastrophic river flooding in South Alabama.Over the last day or so, some longtime Mobile residents said that Hurricane Sally, with its dangerous and stubborn procrastination, reminded them of Hurricane Danny in 1997, which also moved at a crawling pace while dumping rain for hours, setting off mudslides and catastrophic river flooding in South Alabama.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson urged people in low-lying areas known to be flood-prone to move to higher ground.Mayor Sandy Stimpson urged people in low-lying areas known to be flood-prone to move to higher ground.
“The pleas that we’re making to you, the warnings that we’re giving you, they’re serious,” he said during a news conference on Tuesday. “They’re talking about unprecedented amounts of rainfall.”“The pleas that we’re making to you, the warnings that we’re giving you, they’re serious,” he said during a news conference on Tuesday. “They’re talking about unprecedented amounts of rainfall.”
Still recovering from Hurricane Laura and now bracing for Hurricane Sally, residents along the Gulf Coast and the Eastern Seaboard warily watched reports of other major storms developing in the Atlantic.Still recovering from Hurricane Laura and now bracing for Hurricane Sally, residents along the Gulf Coast and the Eastern Seaboard warily watched reports of other major storms developing in the Atlantic.
On Monday, before Tropical Depression Rene dissolved, there were five concurrent named storms in the Atlantic, which has not happened since 1971, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.On Monday, before Tropical Depression Rene dissolved, there were five concurrent named storms in the Atlantic, which has not happened since 1971, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Three are still active.Three are still active.
Hurricane Paulette packed winds of 100 miles per hour about 450 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada, and threatened to bring dangerous surf and rip current conditions to Bermuda, the Bahamas and parts of the Atlantic Coast.Hurricane Paulette packed winds of 100 miles per hour about 450 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada, and threatened to bring dangerous surf and rip current conditions to Bermuda, the Bahamas and parts of the Atlantic Coast.
Tropical Storm Teddy was gaining strength about 865 miles east of the Lesser Antilles and was projected to near “major hurricane strength” as it approaches Bermuda over the weekend.Tropical Storm Teddy was gaining strength about 865 miles east of the Lesser Antilles and was projected to near “major hurricane strength” as it approaches Bermuda over the weekend.
And Tropical Storm Vicky had maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour about 710 miles west of Cape Verde, though it was not projected to threaten land and was expected to weaken in the coming days.And Tropical Storm Vicky had maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour about 710 miles west of Cape Verde, though it was not projected to threaten land and was expected to weaken in the coming days.
This hurricane season has been among the most active on record, with 20 named storms so far. Along with the wildfires that have devastated the West Coast, scientists see the twin crises as yet more effects of climate change, which threatens to reshape America.This hurricane season has been among the most active on record, with 20 named storms so far. Along with the wildfires that have devastated the West Coast, scientists see the twin crises as yet more effects of climate change, which threatens to reshape America.
Scientists say climate change has made hurricanes wetter, and there is evidence that it can make them slow down, too.Scientists say climate change has made hurricanes wetter, and there is evidence that it can make them slow down, too.
Reporting was contributed by Johnny Diaz, Richard Fausset, Rick Rojas, Marc Santora, Daniel Victor and Will Wright.Reporting was contributed by Johnny Diaz, Richard Fausset, Rick Rojas, Marc Santora, Daniel Victor and Will Wright.